Soft robots provide an opportunity to bridge the gap between machines and people. In contrast to hard bodied robots, soft robots have bodies made out of intrinsically soft and/or extensible materials (e.g. silicone rubbers) that can deform and absorb much of the energy arising from a collision.
Soft robots have a continuously deformable structure with muscle-like actuation that emulates biological systems and results in a relatively large number of degrees of freedom as compared to their hard-bodied counterparts. Soft robots have the potential to exhibit unprecedented adaptation, sensitivity, and agility. Soft bodied robots promise to 1) Move with the ability to bend and twist with high curvatures and thus can be used in confined spaces; 2) Deform their bodies in a continuous way and thus achieve motions that emulate biology; 3) Adapt their shape to the environment employing compliant motion and thus manipulate un-modeled objects, or move on rough terrain and exhibit resilience; 4) Execute rapid, agile maneuvers, such as the escape maneuver in fish. We are developing new design, fabrication, modeling, control, and planning algorithms for soft robots.